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WASHINGTON – Bruce Riedel, a former U.S. intelligence official and a current adviser on foreign policy to President Obama, isn’t holding out much hope for the future of the Saudi monarchy, and he believes its downfall could profoundly affect U.S. interests in the Middle East, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Riedel, who is with the Washington think-tank Brookings Institution, had penned a memorandum to the president that warns the Saudi regime is vulnerable to overthrow. He argues the monarchy maintains “complete authority” and the Saudi royal family “has shown no interest in sharing power or in an elected legislature.”
The Saudi regime, says Riedel, has managed to prevent any democratic movements in any of the Arab Gulf states, preserving the monarchies.
However, he warns that all of the monarchies could be in jeopardy if revolution were to come to Saudi Arabia.
“The Sunni minority in Bahrain could not last without Saudi money and tanks,” Riedel says. “Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are city-states that would be unable to defend themselves against a Saudi revolutionary regime, despite all their money.”
Yet, the U.S. continues to back the Saudi regime, and he urges Obama to do more to strengthen it as well as its neighboring monarchies in an effort to crush the “Arab Awakenings.” In effect, Riedel is urging the president to do what is necessary to ensure against democratic revolution in those countries.
“Since American interests are so intimately tied to the House of Saud, the U.S. does not have the choice of distancing the United States from it in an effort to get on the right side of history,” Riedel says.
Riedel instead proposes that the Obama administration “encourage” modest reforms while at the same time being prepared to not only prop up the Saudi regime but “be ready to shore up the neighboring kingdoms and sheikhdoms.”
Bahrain, for example, has a Sunni monarchy that rules over a Shiite majority population. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets over the past two years demanding reforms, but their efforts have been forcibly put down.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE even sent troops into Bahrain to shore up the Sunni monarchy, believing that Shiite Iran is behind efforts to extend its influence in the Gulf Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia itself has seen increased Shiite demonstrations in its most eastern province, which has much of its oil production. Saudi authorities have wasted no time in firmly stopping any opposition demonstrators.
While Riedel believes that support for the Saudi regime enhances the U.S. war against al-Qaida, sources say that the Saudis continue to finance foreign, radical Islamist efforts as long as they don’t carry out attacks in the kingdom.
Riedel, a strong backer of Israel, has made it clear that Saudi Arabia has been in the forefront of impeding the advancement of its chief nemesis in the region, Iran.
He points out that the Saudi kingdom has backed revolutions in Libya and Syria that were supposed to “undermine longstanding enemies of the kingdom, especially Iran.”
Since the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have formed the foundation of the security arrangement in the region. Israel and these countries have regarded Iran as their adversary, but Egyp,t under the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, appears to be leaning increasingly toward Iran.
The advent of the “Arab Spring” two years ago has brought the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which even the Saudis find threatening, since the Brotherhood is against monarchies.
In the mind of presidential adviser Riedel, revolutionary change in the kingdom would be a disaster to U.S. interests. Continued instability in the kingdom also would wreak havoc on global oil markets, setting back economic recovery in the West.
To many observers, however, continued U.S. support for the Saudi monarchy amid movements for democratic change in the Middle East have further called U.S. policy into question.
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